Effect of Suckling Systems on Serum Oxytocin and Cortisol Concentrations and Behavior to a Novel Object in Beef Calves

  • Chen, Siyu (Lab of Land Ecology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University) ;
  • Tanaka, Shigefumi (Lab of Land Ecology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University) ;
  • Ogura, Shin-ichiro (Lab of Land Ecology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University) ;
  • Roh, Sanggun (Lab of Animal Physiology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University) ;
  • Sato, Shusuke (Lab of Land Ecology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University)
  • Received : 2015.04.17
  • Accepted : 2015.06.03
  • Published : 2015.11.01


We investigated differences between effects of natural- and bucket-suckling methods on basal serum oxytocin (OT) and cortisol concentrations, and the effect of OT concentration on affiliative and investigative behavior of calves to a novel object. Ten Japanese Black calves, balanced with birth order, were allocated evenly to natural-suckling (NS) and bucket suckling (BS) groups. Blood samples were collected at the ages of 1 and 2 months (1 week after weaning) calves, and serum OT and cortisol concentrations were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and enzymeimmunoassay tests, respectively. Each calf at the age of 2 months (2 weeks after weaning) was released into an open-field with a calf decoy, and its investigative and affiliative behaviors were recorded for 20 minutes. In 1-month-old calves, the basal serum OT concentration ($25.5{\pm}4.9$ [mean${\pm}$standard deviation, pg/mL]) of NS was significantly higher than that of BS ($16.9{\pm}6.7$) (p<0.05), whereas the basal cortisol concentration ($5.8{\pm}2.5$ [mean${\pm}$standard deviation, ng/mL]) of NS was significantly lower than that in BS ($10.0{\pm}2.8$) (p<0.05). Additionally, a negative correlation was noted between serum OT and cortisol concentrations in 1-month-old calves (p = 0.06). Further, the higher serum OT concentration the calves had at 1 month old, the more investigative the calves were at 2 months old but not affiliative in the open-field with a calf decoy. Thus, we concluded that the natural suckling method from a dam elevates the basal serum OT concentration in calves, and high serum OT concentrations induce investigative behavior and attenuate cortisol concentrations.


Oxytocin;Cortisol;Natural Suckling;Investigative Behavior;Calf;Stress


Supported by : Tohoku University


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